“High Stakes South of the Border”

Two of the many benefits of subscribing to Stratfor are (1) its reporting on geopolitical trends not yet visible to the mainstream media, and (2) it provides a window into the thinking of America’s elites (Stratfor’s customers, senior business and government officials with whom it must stay in synch).


We get both in a new report:  “High Stakes South of the Border.”  This continues their excellent reporting during the past few years on the disintegration of Mexico’s polity — another “decline of the state” in progress.  Just as interesting, Stratfor’s conclusion shows its (and our) assumption of America’s unlimited power and resources.

U.S. forces are largely preoccupied in Iraq and Afghanistan. While it would take a great deal to tip the scale toward a U.S. military intervention in Mexico, we may now be at a point where that has to be considered given what is at stake.

The last time the United States meaningfully asserted control over a deteriorating situation in Mexico was in the early 20th century during the Mexican Revolution, when the United States occupied Veracruz for six months to protect U.S. business interests. If violence on the border started hurting the bottom line, the cost of not doing anything would start to approach the cost of military action. The potential for an escalation of violence between the cartels and the government spiraling out of control could tip that balance.

It is unclear what the threshold for U.S. action in Mexico would be. But the stakes are high. If the United States sees trade flows threatened, and the security situation deteriorating, Washington might see fit to intervene. And just because it hasn’t done so in a century doesn’t mean it will not choose to do so in the future.

Belief that we could stabilize Mexico is amazing, on several levels.  Mexico’s population is over one hundred million people, roughly one-third the size of ours.  Their long-standing hostility to us, with considerable historical basis, would make intervention potentially explosive.  But most of all, this displays no awareness of how the world has changed.

Since Mao brought fourth generation warfare (4GW) to maturity, foreign interventions have a low rate of success.  As 4GW’s go, operations in Mexico have many favorable characteristics.  We have many Spanish-speaking people in our government and military.  If done at the request of Mexico’s government, with them taking the lead, the damage to their legitimacy might not be terminal.  Still, Stratfor shows no awareness of the terrible risks involved.

Second, Stratfor — like our elites — show no awareness of our precarious economic position, a textbook case of imperial overstretch.  We can intervene anywhere, anytime — so long as our foreign creditors (a small group of Asian and Middle East nations) loan us the money.  This insanity is on full display in our Presidential election.

Interesting times, indeed.

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Other articles about Mexico

  1. Is Mexico unraveling?  (28 April 2008) — summary of Stratfor’s warnings about Mexico.
  2. Mexico: On the Road to a Failed State?“, George Friedman, Stratfor (13 May 2008)
  3. Mexico: Examining Cartel War Violence Through a Protective Intelligence Lens“, Stratfor (14 May 2008)
  4. Crime and Punishment in Mexico: The big picture beyond drug cartel violence“, posted at Grits for Breakfast (18 May 2008)

Articles about the end of the US geopolitical regime

  1. Death of the post-WWII geopolitical regime, III – death by debt  (8 January 2008) – Origins of the long economic expansion from 1982 to 2006; why the down cycle will be so severe.
  2. Geopolitical implications of the current economic downturn  (24 January 2008) – How will this recession end?  With re-balancing of the global economy, so that the US goods and services are again competitive.  No more trade deficit, and we can pay out debts.
  3. A happy ending to the current economic recession (12 February 2008) – The political actions which might end this downturn, and their long-term implications.
  4. Archive of articles about the end of the post-WWII geopolitical regime

6 thoughts on ““High Stakes South of the Border””

  1. Don’t forget that in the not too distant future of a political oil peak Canada is likely to cut off oil sands oil and the US will have to occupy most of Alberta. We know from the Iraq experience it’s really easy to protect pipelines.

    This expedition will be especially helped by the fact that most of local population look like Americans and the authorities will have to detain everyone and make them say word like “about” to determine their nationality.

    [Boy – I wish this was April 1st!]

  2. Imagine if Mexico were the militarily superior power: their elites might be contemplating an intervention in the U.S. to choke off the money from American drug consumers funding the cartels currently tearing the country apart . . .

  3. Military intervention would be idiotic, Fabius. Indeed.

    Imagine the 4GW tactics that could be employed against us that we would be powerless to parry: labor strikes, waves of illegal immigrants, dumping drugs on the streets, etc…

    Not to mention the whole problem of occupation.

    It would be better to secure the border, and reestablish the rule of law with respect to illegal immigrants, before we go on another adventure.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Agreed on all points! Also, thanks for commenting!
    Smitten Eagle posted some valuable insights in the comments to “Surrender in Al Anbar“, which are well worth reading. You might find his web site of interest: Smitten Eagle.

  4. Pingback: The Glittering Eye » Blog Archive » The Hollowing Out of Mexico

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